Sunshine Week 2015

The New England First Amendment Coalition joined open-government advocates across the country to celebrate the 10th annual Sunshine Week.

This national campaign, from March 15-21, is an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

To recognize the occasion, NEFAC and 22 other organizations wrote to the Obama Administration calling for, among other things, improvements to the federal Freedom of Information Act. We wrote:

“For a more open government the Administration should support legislation that ensures agencies may not withhold information unless they reasonably foresee that disclosure will cause specific identifiable harm to an interest protected by an existing exemption, or if the disclosure is prohibited by law.”

The full letter can be read here. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy from Vermont also voiced his support of FOIA reform in a column published on our website, marking the first day of Sunshine Week.

On the state level, NEFAC recently announced its partnership with three Massachusetts organizations in  an effort to improve that state’s public records law. The Massachusetts Freedom of Information Alliance consists of NEFAC, the ACLU of MassachusettsCommon Cause Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Each day during Sunshine Week, NEFAC published reports from all New England states, highlighting various freedom of information concerns and initiatives:

In Vermont, Small Government Requires More Public Vigilance
Dan Barrett | NEFAC and ACLU of Vermont

Sunshine Week in Rhode Island: Cloudy with a Chance of Stonewalls
Steven Brown | ACLU of Rhode Island

Bring Sunshine Back to Connecticut Law Enforcement
James H. Smith | NEFAC and Connecticut Council on FOI

Let the Sun Shine on New Hampshire Government
Gregory V. Sullivan | NEFAC and the Loeb School of Communications

Budget Creates Shadow Over Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services
Oamshri Amarasingham | ACLU of Maine

Sunshine Week Concludes, But Efforts in Massachusetts Must Continue
Justin Silverman | NEFAC

Also, in the spirit of Sunshine Week, NEFAC temporarily replaced its familiar NEFAC blue logo with a sun, hoping that it reminds everyone of those famous words by Justice Louis D. Brandeis:

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”